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Redskins Quotes 9/14/11: Shanahan, Grossman, Hightower


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September 14, 2011
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Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the injury status of safety LaRon Landry, linebacker Brian Orakpo and tight end Chris Cooley:
“[LaRon] was limited. [Orakpo] was limited too. Cooley was full go.”

On if Landry is making strides:
“[LaRon’s] hoping he can go. [We’ll] keep our fingers crossed.”

On if he’s confident Orakpo will play against the Cardinals:
“He was limited today and we’ll just judge it day-by-day.”

On wide receiver Brandon Banks’ status:
“Brandon is fine. He’s full go. Everybody was full go except [Landry and Orakpo].”

On if the treatments Banks received made a difference:
“There’s no setback and he’s had a chance to work for over a week. [There’s] been no swelling in that area and he’s been able to run on the scout team as well so we’ll keep our fingers crossed so nothing sets him back.”

On what it will take for Landry to play on Sunday:
“He has to show he can play. You have to be in football shape just like Chris Cooley. How do you know how many plays he can play? I wasn’t really sure going into the game. He felt pretty good as the game went on. We kept him in on more plays than I thought we would. It’s kind of your gut as we go through the week. You see how a guy handles himself on game day. You try not to overwork him, but you get a feeling how long a guy can go. There’s always that question where you don’t want to push him over the hump where he sets himself back so there’s a fine line there.”

On if running back Tim Hightower has surprised him:
“I like what I’ve seen. You don’t know for sure if a running back’s a three-down back or if he can handle the blitz, run the football or catch the ball. What I’ve seen since he’s been here is he can do all three so that was a good addition to our football team.”

On if Hightower can help give the team information about the Cardinals:
“Like Barry [Cofield] last week, we get into detail about the players about their personality, work habits, strengths and weaknesses – things along those lines. You get a little more relevant to the person than you do about the X’s and O’s.”

On if Hightower could have broken more long runs against the Giants:
“I just know if you run the ball 25-30 times a game that eventually those plays will break. We had three, four, five situations where those runs could have gone another 50-60 yards and, if you do, everyone is bragging on the running game. Those runs will come in time.”

On the type of film he looks at to prepare for Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb:
“You’re kind of looking into what [the Cardinals] are doing as an offense now, not what they did when he was in Philadelphia. We’ve watched Kevin, obviously, play not a lot of games, but a few games, and we’ve watched him with this new system so you’re trying to project what he’s going to do this coming weekend based on preseason games and the first regular season game.”

On teams’ success on offense around the NFL in week one:
“It all seems to balance itself out. It does every year. [In the] first game of the season, sometimes, stats get a little carried away. It seems by the middle of the season, everything is back to normal again.”

On what the rule change has meant for kickoff returns in the NFL:
“I can’t figure that one out yet. Are people trying to drive it out of the end zone right now where before they are trying to drive it up in the air? If someone is trying to kick it out and it’s not in the air as much, does it give you a chance to return it? I have to wait on that one. I’m not really sure for now.”

On if there are a lot of unknowns about Arizona’s defense:
“They had four preseason games and it’s tough putting in your first defense or your first offense evaluating people, especially for the first-year staffs, that’s always tougher. Obviously, coaches that have been together for a number of years, it’s also hard evaluating those young players that we talked about. Nobody is going to feel sorry for anybody, that is for sure.”

On if he sees a lot of Pittsburgh’s principles in Arizona’s team:
“[Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton] was there for seven years I believe so he has that background. [Head Coach Ken] Whisenhunt was in Pittsburgh for a number of years and they probably have a good feel for us as well.”

On trading for Hightower:
“[The Cardinals] had a first-round draft choice and an early second-round draft choice and you just really don’t know. [Hightower] was in the last year of his contract and he played well for three years. You never know what somebody is thinking at the time. We only have him for one year. They got a draft choice out of it and it was before [Ryan] Williams got hurt. A lot of thought goes into it. Sometimes it works out for both teams.”

On tackle Trent Williams’ performance against the Giants:
“I thought Trent has made tremendous strides from last year. He’s going to be a good football player. He just has to work every week to get better and better, but I’ve seen tremendous strides just going from one year to the next just going through this preseason. Hopefully, he’ll keep on getting better.”

On if he has a plan for the number of carries Hightower will get this season:
“It’s after the first game. We’ll just have to wait a little bit and see how he does, but Tim’s a big guy that can take a lot of pounding. He’s strong and he’s in good football shape. We’ll give him an opportunity to show us what he can do. Like I said, there are not too many backs that are all three-down backs so that gives him the ability to play more than a lot of players. A lot of players can play only so many plays because they can’t protect or they can only be situational players. He’ll get more playing time than most people will get.”

On how he learned about Hightower’s intangibles:
“You can find anything out if you work at it. You can go back to his high school coach, his college coaches, friends, players that he knows on the team that have mutual friends. There are all different types of avenues that you can take to find somebody’s character.”

On Hightower’s preparation:
“You can tell Tim enjoys what he’s doing. He’s into it. He works extremely hard and he wants to know everything he can possibly learn about the system. You want people that are conscientious and accountable and Tim is one of those guys. He’s going to do whatever he can to try to get the edge. When you have people like that, you have a chance for good things to happen.”

On tight end Fred Davis:
“Being in his second year, he’s a lot more comfortable with the system. Sometimes it doesn’t happen right away. By losing some weight and having an excellent offseason program, he’s giving himself the ability to have a heck of a year. I think he’s enjoying what he’s doing and looks like he’s having fun. Usually when players are having fun, they have a way of coming up with big plays just like he did in the first game.”

Quarterback Rex Grossman

On what he observed about Arizona’s defense from watching film:
“They gave up some big plays. They’re a good defense—you watch that tape and Carolina didn’t really pick them apart. They’re a good defense. They had a couple of busted coverages and they gave up some huge plays, and then there was a two-minute drill at the end of the game where they got all the way down near the goal line, which is about another 80 yards. We’re not going into this game thinking any different than last week. Concentrate on what we’re supposed to do, and go out and execute.”

On the Cardinals’ defensive pressure, specifically from defensive tackle Darnell Dockett:
“From a quarterback’s perspective, you like to get the ball out of your hands quickly, just in general, and at the same time, trust your offensive line that they’re going to do a good job and give you time to throw. That’s as far as I think about it. You can’t overthink anything. I have a lot of trust in my offensive line to protect me.”

On if he remembers the last time he played Arizona:
“It’s been a while. We used to play them in the preseason, for whatever reason, a lot. I played them one time in Chicago, a long time ago.”

On tight end Fred Davis’ performance this year compared to last year:
“Fred’s playing a lot faster. I think he fully understands what the coaches expect out of him and what he’s supposed to do. He’s a great player. He was a great player last year. You can tell that he’s improved just by being around the coaches. He’s very motivated and it shows.”

On if he thinks two tight ends will continue to be involved in the offense:
“Definitely, I think that’s pretty obvious. If you have the choice of a fullback or two tight ends, you can do a lot of the same stuff. We’ve got a great fullback in Darrel Young for our base package, but for a lot of the stuff we do, two tight ends work just as well.”

On if any particular sequence from the Giants game stands out in his mind:
“There were a lot of plays I liked. I think that [the drive before the half] was important. They had their only real drive—they had a big 60-yard pass down to the goal line and Eli ended up running it in—but their only real drive, where they drove it all the way down the field and scored, we immediately followed with a drive going all the way down the field and scoring before the half to tie it up. I think that was a big part of the game, to go into halftime 14-14 and reassess everything, feel good about what we did, and go out and win the game in the second half.”

On if he’s happy with how he managed the game:
“Yes, definitely. When you talk in general terms, you want to A) protect the ball and B) make the right reads. When the play is there to be made, you want to make a high percentage of them and I thought I did that.”

On if he consciously tries to spread the ball around:
“No, not at all. I definitely try to run the offense as it’s called and it just so happens that the ball gets spread around.”

On how often his first option is open:
“About 70 percent, I don’t know—a pretty good amount. I definitely have to progress on a lot of reads, but the defense pretty much dictates that. You try to get a good pre-snap read, but then once the ball is snapped just react and go through the progression.”

On what he’s processing on-field before the snap:
“There are a lot of things you process. The most important is protection, making sure you’re protected, and then from there, coverage. In this league they do a great job of disguising. They can disguise one coverage and immediately roll to a different one, which completely changes your thought process as the ball is snapped.”

On running back Tim Hightower’s value to the team outside of his play on Sundays:
“This is a unique circumstance where you don’t have an offseason and, basically, I met him six weeks ago. From the start, he’s been nothing but a hardworker and a great teammate. I can’t say enough about his attitude, work ethic and talent. I expect him to have a huge year. He started off pretty well last week and hopefully he’ll have a great game this week.”

On what the Giants were doing to try to cover Fred Davis:
“They were trying to jam him at the line a little bit, but once you get that guy in space, not too many safeties can run with him, let alone linebackers. He’s a mismatch because of his talent and speed. He’s a good route-runner. Like you said, the combination of [Chris] Cooley and Fred [Davis] is pretty dangerous.”

On if he is more aware of Davis’ field positioning because of the match-up problem he presents:
“I think that’s more of a question for Kyle [Shanahan]. He dictates my progression for the most part. There are several plays in a game plan where you have a choice and you can go to different people—definitely more and more I feel comfortable with Fred [Davis] that he’s going to win. That’s a pretty safe option.”

On if he believes the team could’ve put up 42 points against the Giants:
“We were in field goal range a couple of times and we didn’t get any points, but we also finished three drives too, which could’ve been field goals. If we had played exactly the way we wanted to, I don’t think 42 points is a stretch for that game, but that game is over and we’re moving on. We’re going to try to have a great practice today and tomorrow and wrap it up on Friday.”

On if last week’s practice schedule changing on account of rain affected their play early on:
“No. We stalled out on the first two drives just because of what the Giants did. There’s nothing we really could’ve done about it. They had a tipped pass that would’ve been a first down, they brought a blitz that made me hot and I had to throw it away, and then that pass to Jabar [Gaffney] over the middle was just a little too far.”

On if the pass he had to throw away was because he and Cooley didn’t have the chance to practice together:
“No. He was covered and I had somebody in my face…they just got us. That happens over the course of a game. Obviously you would like to get off to a fast start, but nobody panicked and we got into a rhythm pretty quickly after that.”

On if he attributes his success with the Redskins to 'patience’:
“Yes, I think that in this offense, whether it’s the running game or the passing game, you can stall out at times but you never know when that big play is coming. Then everyone gets into a rhythm and our offense has a momentum about it, that, once it gets going, it’s tough to stop.”

On if he considers himself a gunslinger:
“I think so. I think I’m just smarter about it because of the offense. The offense allows me to do the things I like to do without trying to manufacture them myself.”

On if he saw any plays on film where he found another option rather than forcing it in:
“I think I’m in a good spot right now from my experience level, the offense that I’m in and the personnel around me. I feel good about it. I’m going to make mistakes, and mistakes happen. To be a quarterback, and to not be confused, to not feel 'well what do I do now?’—that’s kind of when bad things happen—and I don’t feel that very much.”

On if his confidence level has changed since preseason:
“That Pittsburgh game really helped. From the standpoint of, eight months off and now we’re in live football, to be able to run the ball well, throw the ball well, and move the ball up and down the field on a good defense—I think it definitely sparked our team. It sparked our offense.”

On what the Redskins need to do to improve against Arizona this weekend:
“We have to play extremely well. It’s a good defense. [Carolina quarterback] Cam Newton made a bunch of plays. He made a bunch of big plays and that’s where most of the yards came from. [Carolina] held them to not very many rushing yards. We need to be able to play smart, take care of the football and execute.”

On if Sunday’s game met his expectations for the team:
“I expected us to go out there and play well and we did. We can play better, but it was definitely good enough to win.”

On how the running game’s success influenced the passing game on Sunday:
“It definitely keeps the defense honest. We were one or two blocks from really hitting a big one and that’s what this running game is all about-sticking with it. You never know when that 50-yarder is coming. We were pretty close on a couple, which obviously would’ve made the average rushing yards a lot better, but we never quite got it. We made enough big plays in the passing game to score enough points.”

Running Back Tim Hightower

On if this game has a different feel for him this week:
“Yeah, it has a little different feel. I don’t want to say a different mindset, but a little different mindset.”

On if it’s strange watching the film of a team for which he used to play:
“When you play with the same guys three years in practice and, now, you’re finally playing against them, it’s a little bit different. You kind of know those guys and have a relationship with some of those guys. You feel like you’re playing against some of your friends. It’s exciting though.”

On why he thinks the Cardinals traded him:
“I’m not sure. I’m not the one who makes that decision. For whatever reason, that kind of is how it is sometimes in this league. One guy fits a scheme a certain way and another guy doesn’t. My role there was what it was supposed to be. I fit for what they needed me to do and that’s the place that they had for me. I just felt like I wanted my role to be a little bit different.”

On the differences in the running scheme:
“It’s a lot different just the way the blocking schemes. I think the overall philosophy – the mindset - is a little bit different. At the end of the day, they say football is football, but coaches on different teams approach things a little different. It was a different transition when I came here.”

On his career-high 25 rushing attempts against the Giants:
“I couldn’t have [asked for any more touches]. The selfish part of me could. I always want to get more touches, that’s just the selfish part in all of us. You want to be the center of attention, but not in a negative way. I want that kind of responsibility. I want that target on my chest. They gave it to me enough and I have to make some more things happen with it.”

On if his role in the Giants game was expected:
“You don’t know and I don’t go into the game trying to predict exactly what my role is going to be. I prepare to carry the ball 60 times if I have to. That’s the type of conditioning and the type of mindset that I prepare myself for. So, for me, anything less is easy.”

On if he saw anything on the film that he could do differently:
“There are a lot of things I could have done differently. I missed a lot of cuts. I feel like I wasn’t in sync at times. [There were] times that I was too slow and times that I was too fast. It was kind of one of those things where I didn’t quite get into a rhythm. A lot of those plays were well-blocked and I just have to get more out of. That’s something that I take pride in. That’s something that, again, you’re asking for that type of responsibility and you have to step up to the plate. You can’t just talk about it, you have to be about it, so it’s not good enough for me and it’s not my standard. I will improve on that on Sunday.”

On why he had problems getting in sync:
“I wish I could tell you, but I don’t know. If it were that easy, I probably would have corrected it during the game. For whatever reason, sometimes, it’s kind of like basketball. I used to play basketball back in the day and, sometimes, your jumper is not right when you shoot. That’s why you shoot so many times in practice and that’s why you get a lot of repetitions. There are times when you may struggle a little bit, but you have to trust your work ethic. I trust my work ethic and I trust the philosophy. Every week is not going to be rough. Every week is not going to be a grind-it-out that week. Sometimes, you have those types of weeks.”

On if he has to prove anything to Arizona this week:
“I want to win. I’m one of those guys where, when I’m there, I’m all the way in. I’m never one-foot-in and one-foot-out. When I’m gone, I’m gone. I’m a Redskin now and I want to win. I want to win a Super Bowl and that’s my one goal. I don’t care if we rush for 400 yards and we lose, I’m going to be upset. If we rush for 500 yards and we win, personally, I can deal with that. To be 2-0 is my focus right now.”

On the Cardinals’ strengths and weaknesses:
“I’ll do some talking one-on-one. I don’t know if there’s one overall. It’s just a lot of passion – come out and play with a lot of passion. Arizona is well-coached and they have some good leaders there. They have some veterans there who have been there, been to some big games and been through some tough times. They are going to come ready to play. The biggest thing is to show up with passion. I think if you outmatch their emotion and energy, you have a good chance to win.”

On if he’s spoken with any Cardinals players this week:
“No, I really don’t want to. I don’t really want to talk to them before the game. I have a lot of friends there, but, for me, when I’m playing against you, you’re not a friend of mine. Before the game and after the game, I really don’t have any words for them – it’s all love. After the game, we’ll shake hands and do all that stuff and act like it never happened.”

On how difficult it was to fly east and play games at 1 p.m. ET when he was in Arizona:
“It’s difficult just from the standpoint that, sometimes, you’re flying the day right before and you get into that time change and you’re waking up three hours earlier. Now, you’re getting on the field when you’re normally eating breakfast. You can sit there and go through a whole bunch of excuses, but, at the end of the day, you’re paid to play football and that’s what you have to do.

On if anything is riding on this game between him and teammates because the game is against the Cardinals:
“I think a win will speak for itself. When you win, you don’t have to say much. When you win, SportsCenter can talk for you and the scoreboard can talk for you. All of those things can talk for you. When you talk to them on the phone, it’s kind of understood that we just beat you in a fair way. I think that’s the loudest and sweetest thing that [the team] can do for me is get a win at the end of the day.”

On if there is one Cardinal that he wants get the best of:
“Not one guy in particular. [Darnell Dockett] is a good friend of mine so I’m going to talk to the offensive line and make sure they take care of him, but nothing dirty. Again, I have nothing but respect for those guys. I’m not one of those guys where, as soon as I turn, they are my enemies from the standpoint that I can’t stand them. They are a good group of guys over there. I have a great deal of respect for every guy on that team. I don’t care how it happens, I just want to win.”

On if he guaranteed a win against the Cardinals:
“It’s funny I have to address that because I think anyone that has lived long enough in life knows there’s nothing in life that’s guaranteed. Tomorrow’s not guaranteed, so for me to guarantee something, that’s not in my control. With that being said, I wouldn’t aim for anything less than the best. That doesn’t make sense for me not to expect to win and to want to win. I’m not going to apologize for the way that I feel. I’m very passionate about what I do. This team is very passionate about what we do and I’m not going to put my team at a disadvantage by speaking out there. With the same mindset, we play to win. We’re hungry for a win and I’m sure if you ask those guys, I would hope that they expect to win as well, so that was all that was. It wasn’t that I know something that they don’t know, it’s just a matter of confidence. I believe in the guys that we have in this locker room and I believe in the coaches that we have.”

On being traded for defensive end Vonnie Holliday:
“I don’t even think about that. I’m glad it happened. It happened at the perfect time. I’m looking forward to being 2-0. I don’t even think about it. Every once in a while, it will cross my mind just the fact that I’m back here living a childhood dream. I feel blessed to be a part of this organization, but I’m not thinking about why it happened, I’m thinking about the opportunities moving forward.”

On if he’ll have some big opportunities this week because the Cardinals defense gave up a lot of yards last week:
“it’s funny because people get caught up in numbers a lot and you have to be careful with that because, any given Sunday, we rushed for 77 yards [last week] and we can rush for 300 this weekend. You can rush for five next weekend. That depends on the guys in the locker room and there is nothing guaranteed. They gave up some big plays, but I don’t think that’s going to be their defense every single week. I don’t think we can hang our hat on the fact that what happened last week is what we’re going to see this week. They are going to be well-coached and ready to play and they are going to clean up those things as we will. We’ll be well-coached and we’ll improve on the mistakes we made last week.”

On if wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is the leader of the Cardinals:
“[Larry] is the heart and soul of that team. Him and [Adrian] Wilson [are leaders], those guys that have been around the franchise because they have been around there in some of the worst times when they didn’t even have a home stadium, when they were playing inside Sun Devil Stadium. To see those guys take the program from the ground up and to see exactly a guy [Fitzgerald] who is that highly paid and that productive, but still comes to work every day like he’s a rookie about to get cut [shows] his work ethic. He sets the tone for practice and sets the tone for the team. Guys go to his beat.”

On if he was trying too hard in his first game as a Redskin:
“That could be something. I didn’t really sleep well the night before. I was just excited. I felt like a kid in the candy store. You dream about something so long and, you finally get an opportunity, you just can’t wait. Sometimes you have to calm those nerves and just remember it’s the same game that I have been playing since fourth grade. I think a little bit of that was being anxious, which is to be expected. I have to focus on getting back to doing what I have to do.”

On if Fitzgerald’s work ethic rubbed off on him:
“[Larry] is smart. Everyone sees the spectacular catches and all of the highlight reels. What people don’t see is the stuff I saw in Kurt Warner – in the locker room, in the meeting rooms. He was always in the defensive coordinator’s ear. He was always trying to learn coverages. If they were playing him, how would they cover him and he was always just absorbing knowledge and just absorbing information about the game. Being a young guy coming into the league, you respect that and I’m very observant and I pick up on a lot of things, and that’s definitely one thing that I picked up on.”

(Courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

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